SAN JOSE, Calif. — Even if Harry Redknapp had offered them a hefty discount, there was no way the San Jose Earthquakes could afford the multimillion-dollar transfer fee ponied up by the LA Galaxy to free Irish national-team captain Robbie Keane from Tottenham Hotspur over the weekend.
So even though Keane landed with their archrivals as the Galaxy’s latest Designated Player, the Quakes quickly shot down any notion that they had been knifed in the back by Spurs, their club partners in England.
“We’re not even in that [conversation],” Quakes coach Frank Yallop said. “We’re not getting a DP. We’re getting another player [Ecuadorian striker Edmuno Zura, on loan from El Nacional]. Right now, how we do it, we don’t do DPs at the moment, so we can’t worry about what other teams do.”
San Jose fans were holding out a flicker of hope regarding Keane (pictured above head of last summer's Quakes-Tottenham friendly) in light of the fact that Spurs were willing to lend the Quakes talented young attacker Simon Dawkins. But Dawkins was a player who needed a chance to prove simply that he could stay healthy through a full season after suffering a spate of injuries. Keane represented a chance for Tottenham to make real money.
“I was about to say, ‘Why couldn’t he come here?'” Dawkins told MLSsoccer.com. “But it’s great for the league to have players like this. It’s only going to boost our league. So I’m very happy for him.”
Asked directly if he’d discussed Keane with Tottenham before the Galaxy deal was completed, San Jose general manager John Doyle’s initial reaction was to laugh, then to joke about the situation.
“And we talked to Barcelona about Lionel Messi,” Doyle joked, before turning serious. “We talked to Tottenham about [Keane] years ago and then he was bought by Liverpool [for £19 million in July 2008]. I think that was a little tough for us to compete with them. And financially, it’s tough to compete with the Galaxy. They have David Beckham, Landon Donovan and now Keane.”
To Doyle, worrying about Keane’s presence in Los Angeles — even if it is on a team they could potentially face if they make the playoffs — is wasted energy.
“I really don’t care,” Doyle said. “It doesn’t matter to me. I don’t think about what they’re doing. I don’t care about what they’re doing. From a league standpoint, the better the players that come into the league, that’s great. [But] I don’t think about it. We’re in the situation we’re in and I have to work within what I have to work within.”
That means the Quakes must remain creative with their spending habits, which is one reason why they brought in Zura on a loan. It’s a rent-to-own situation, of sorts, giving San Jose a long look at a player who probably will require DP money to stay in 2012 and beyond.
While there’s no guarantee Zura will become San Jose’s second DP (following Geovanni, who appeared in 12 matches last year), the Quakes know their days of living without that type of highly paid star are nearing an end.
“The time will come, I’m sure, where we’ll use the money wisely and get a Designated Player, one or two, to help us out, because the league’s changing,” Yallop said. “Everyone seems to be doing it. We’ll at some point definitely have that. ‘When’ is the thing.”
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @sjquakes